Common Medications Linked to Birth Defects

Expecting parents often make sacrifices to protect their new upcoming additions, from avoiding soft cheeses and deli meats to curbing daily caffeine consumption. Parents also rely on their doctors to guide them in determining which medications are safe to take during pregnancy. Often, a simple change of medications can make the difference in having a healthy baby instead of one with birth defects. That’s why when parents experience birth defects caused by medications, it can be extremely hard to process and move forward.

Unfortunately, parents might take medications prescribed by their doctors that are unknowingly causing harm to a growing and developing fetus. Continue reading to learn more about examples of medications that can cause birth defects if taken during pregnancy or contact the team today at Pope & Howard in Atlanta, GA if you think you have a case. If you or someone you love has experienced harmful birth defects to a child because of unknown drug interactions or doctor-prescribed medications, you may be entitled to compensation.

Blood pressure medications known as angiontensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiontensin ii receptor blockers (ARB)

Blood pressure medications called ACE inhibitors and ARBs are among the most commonly prescribed to women who experience high blood pressure. However, these medications are known to cause serious birth defects, including kidney and brain damage as well as growth restrictions. Taking these medications very early in pregnancy is unlikely to cause birth defects so long as the medication is stopped. If you become pregnant and are taking an ACE inhibitor or an ARB, call your doctor immediately to find out the best course of action. Fortunately, there are a number of other blood pressure medications that are safe to take while pregnant and do not cause birth defects. Again, talk to your doctor about the best way to control your blood pressure during pregnancy.


Used to help treat severe or cystic acne, Accutane can be extremely harmful if taken while pregnant. In fact, FDA studies show that chances of birth defects are as high as 35 percent when a mother takes Accutane while pregnant. It can also cause stillbirth. Because this drug is so clearly linked to birth defects, doctors typically require patients taking Accutane to use two methods of birth control for one month prior to treatment, during the entire 16- to 20-week treatment cycle, and for at least one month after treatment in order to prevent pregnancy – or agree to abstain from any sexual activity during this time.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

An easy-to-access over-the-counter drug category, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, or NSAIDs, can be harmful to a developing fetus. Because they are so widely used to reduce pain, fever, and inflammation, many parents may not realize that can cause harm to their unborn child. However, on October 15, 2020, FDA warned that the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) around 20 weeks or later in pregnancy may cause rare but serious kidney problems in an unborn baby.

While most people switch from Advil, Aleve, and Motrin to Tylenol while pregnant to avoid these complications, some women may be taking prescription-strength NSAIDs, like Lodine, Meloxicam, or Diclofenac, and should consult with their OBGYN to plan a safe way to address the issue during pregnancy so that the mother and child can both be safe.

Specific Antibiotics

It’s important to note that the majority of antibiotics are completely safe for use while pregnant. However, some infections require stronger antibiotics that come with complications for pregnant women, including tetracyclines, sulfonamides, and nitrofurantoin. If you are taking one of these antibiotics and learn you are pregnant, consult your physician immediately so together you can decide the most appropriate course of action. In some circumstances one of these antibiotics is needed to treat the particular infection, so make sure you and your doctor decide on the best antibiotic for your situation.

Tetracyclines are broad-spectrum antibiotics used for antibiotic-resistant infections like some STDs, but also for the treatment of acne rosacea. Some of these common drug names include Solodyn, Monodox, and Vibramycin.

Sulfonamides work to prevent bacteria growth by limiting folic acid, a necessary nutrient for growing babies. Bactrim, Sulfadizine, Zonegran, and other Sulfonamides like these can be detrimental to the fetus.

Lastly, Nitrofurantoin, an antibiotic that helps treat chronic or resistant UTIs and bladder inflammation can cause anencephaly, cleft lip, heart defects, and more, particularly when taken late in the pregnancy.

Again, be sure to talk to your doctor about your particular situation so that you and your baby are safe throughout the pregnancy.

Contact Pope and Howard If You Have a Birth Injury Case in Atlanta, GA

If you or a loved one have experienced birth defects and lasting harm to your child because of drug interactions or medications prescribed while pregnant, Pope & Howard and its team of medical malpractice lawyers are here to help. We’ll discuss your situation and research the link between prescribed medications and birth defects in your child to begin to build a case. Contact us at 404-885-9999 today to schedule your free case consultation or fill out the form on our website.

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